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Martina Juričková

Abstract

J. R. R. Tolkien, as somebody who experienced a difficult early life as an orphan and then as a World War I soldier, endured enough trauma and suffering in his life for it to become a significant element in almost all of his fictional works. This paper explores Tolkien’s understanding of the effects of suffering in human life, which was shaped by his religious belief. He presents pain as an inevitable and essential part of the nature of the Fallen World; yet while it may seem at first as a form of punishment, if treated appropriately, it turns into a powerful means of achieving personal or societal salvation.

Open access

Ema Jelínková

Abstract

This paper presents the case of Scotland as a traumatized nation haunted by ghosts of the past. Scottish national identity has been profoundly influenced by the country’s loss of sovereignty in the 1707 Act of Union. As a result, the stateless nation deprived of agency built its literature on the foundations of idealized stories of its heroic past. It was not until the 1980s that Scottish literature started to tackle the collective trauma and gave rise to works focusing on the weak and the exploited rather than the brave. Janice Galloway and A. L. Kennedy both epitomize this new vein of literature of trauma and explore the links between national and individual experience and strategies for healing the trauma.

Open access

Martin Šemelák

Abstract

This paper deals with the British dystopian novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, in which human clones are forced to donate their organs in an alternate reality set in 1990s England. Through the characters of the novel, various manifestations of suffering are examined from the viewpoint of existentialism. The whole concept of donation might be understood as a metaphorical expression for human life, as well as the omnipresent consciousness of its finitude. Ishiguro has prepared the ground for disturbing discussion where two ostensibly different groups of people – clones, whose only purpose is to donate their vital organs, and “normal people” as the recipients – suddenly appear to be indistinguishable in terms of mortality and the general experience of human existence. This paper focuses on the concept of existential anguish in the context of the novel’s story. Using an unobtrusive science fiction narrative, Never Let Me Go encourages readers to contemplate the essence, meaning and purpose of human life, and it quietly points to topics that are usually treated as highly sensitive: the inevitability of death and apparent absurdity of human existence.

Open access

Jana Waldnerová

Abstract

The paper focuses on the life and poetics of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, an important representative of Cuban gay literature, who, due to his sexual orientation and eventual opposition to the Revolution, was silenced by the Cuban government and exposed to continual threats. His novels, which depict the hardship of and discrimination against ordinary people and gay members of Cuban society (for example Old Rosa and Farewell to the Sea), reveal also signs of the deep trauma that the writer suffered and its impact on his writing.

Open access

Judita Ondrušeková

Abstract

Morality is often referred to as the code of conduct of society. This code determines what is considered correct behaviour and enforces values society deems beneficial. Values themselves are protected by laws and social or moral norms. Authors combine all the mentioned concepts and convey them through the actions taken or not taken by characters. Their writings provide the reader with characters’ motivations, reasoning and try to line them up with a final judgment – to see whether individual morals and values line up with the ones upheld by the rest of society. When dealing with morality in narratives of pain and trauma, the objective is then not only to analyse the protagonists’ psyche but also consider societal pressures. The focus of our analysis lies in Pavel Vilikovský’s novel The Autobiography of Evil, in which the author depicts morally sound characters becoming morally ambiguous while living in an oppressively authoritarian political system. Our aim is to explore the pain and trauma of Jozef K. whose moral core is affected by blackmail and threats. His actions are misguided and they perpetuate the cycle of violence instead of stopping it.

Open access

Nikola Danišová

Abstract

The present study is devoted to the transformation of protagonists into animals in ancient narratives (myths, magical stories, legends, etc.) from various cultures and continents (Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia). The aim of this research is to determine in what situations and subject-motive combinations the main protagonist transforms into an animal as a part or consequence of his/her fair/well-deserved punishment. We will also attempt to conceptually grasp the archetypal meaning of the existential transformation into an animal, which is directly related to human thinking and (sacral and profane) way of life.

Open access

Ewa Rychter

Abstract

This paper focuses on how the romance mode is used to re-narrativize the trauma of Jesus’s crucifixion in two contemporary biblical rewritings: Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ 2010 and Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary 2012. Reflecting on the process of the composition of the Bible, these novels resort to romance in order to invite a critical reflection on different narrativizations of the traumatic event, dependent as they are on both conservative and more subversive effects of romance. As some characters rely on the strategies of traditional spiritual romance in order to alleviate their pain, others cynically resort to a dualistic vision to establish and consolidate power, and still others make use of the excess and disarticulation of romance to do justice to the absolute horror of the event, the novels draw attention both to the comforting and subversive function of Christian scripture. Adding a metafictional dimension to the narrative of crucifixion, the novels expose the way in which religious scriptures can become ideological instruments, and signal the potentially dangerous effects of the renewed significance of religion today.

Open access

Jaroslav Kušnír

Abstract

Richard Flanagan’s novel, The Unknown Terrorist, does not only depict terrorism and violence but especially contemporary postmodern life in an Australian urban setting influenced by media, information technologies and consumerism. Drawing on Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulacra and simulation, this paper analyses Flanagan’s depiction especially of the main character, the Doll, and the way she symbolically represents various aspects of the process of simulation as understood by Baudrillard. In this context, the Doll and other characters are understood as subjects both manipulating and manipulated by the simulated image of reality represented by media and technology, the image which replaces physical reality. The imagery of manipulation is understood as a metaphor implying a critique of hypocrisy and consumerism of the contemporary urban setting in the technologically advanced society represented by the Australian city of Sydney.

Open access

Petr Chalupský

Abstract

Jim Crace likes to refer to himself as a “landscape writer” and indeed, in each of his eleven novels he has created a distinct yet recognizable imaginary landscape or cityscape. This has led critics to coin the term “Craceland” to describe the idiosyncratic milieux he creates, which, through his remarkably authentic and poetic rendering of geography and topography, appear to be both other and familiar at the same time. In The Pesthouse 2007, the milieu is the devastated America of an imagined future, a country which has deteriorated into a pre-modern and pre-industrial wasteland so hostile to sustainable existence that most of its inhabitants have become refugees travelling eastwards to sail to a new life on another continent. Franklin and Margaret, two such refugees, are leaving their homes not only to flee misery and destitution, but also the trauma and pain occasioned by the loss of their relatives. Using geocriticism as a practice and theoretical point of departure, this article presents and analyses the various ways in which Crace’s novel renders and explores its spaces, landscapes and places, as well as how it links them with the transformation of the protagonists’ psyches and mental worlds.

Open access

Mariana Čechová

Abstract

The contribution focuses on a thematological interpretation of the existentials of misery and extinction, using a corpus of selected fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen. In explaining the specificity of Andersen’s concept and presenting life’s givenness (the parameters of being-in-the-world) he verifies the relevance of several existentials which were explained by Heidegger in connection with the use of factual existence (Dasein). The use of existentials as real facts in describing a textual model of the world is justified by the thematic concept as a proposition of modes of existence by Ricouer.